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Brain Injury Support Meetings

If you or someone you know is a brain injury survivor then Brain Injury Support Meetings are for you [ ... ]

ACT Audition Notice

ACT (a community theatre) will stage 12 Angry Women in the round at four Island venues April 26–Ma [ ... ]

Poppa Shines
Profile by Jane Ledwell

Joey Kitson (photo: Alanna Jankov)

When I taught Charlottetown musician Joey Kitson in a professional writing course a few years ago, a résumé-writing assignment raised a question for him: the textbook, aimed at university undergraduates, said to omit experience in rock bands from your professional résumé. In Joey’s case, that would leave a significant gap. He has sung jazz, blues, rock, and Celtic music professionally since high school and spent eight full years as a touring musician fronting the popular “reel’n’rollers,” Rawlins Cross.

This summer, when Joey joins the cast of Canada Rocks! at the Confederation Centre, it will be a return to the mainstage where he made his public performance debut in high school, in Colonel Gray’s production of Bye Bye, Birdy. After catching the performing bug, Joey played tuba in the Island Brass, then joined friends to form the Rock Island Blues Band, a featured attraction in the happening bar/entertainment scene in the late 1980s.

A B.Sc. from the University of Toronto failed to divert Joey from music to medicine. “Over time, eventually my friends were all musician-type guys,” Joey recalls. He took a year of music at St. Francis Xavier, where he had the “juicy role” of Judas in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and says he “opened up [his] ears to a lot of different kinds of music.”

Back in Charlottetown, gigging led to a tourism promotion, led to an invitation to “perform in a male supergroup” for a Halifax event, led to meeting the members of Rawlins Cross who, Joey says, “were looking for a singer to give the band a unified voice.” This meeting led to the road with the popular Celtic rock group.

Of touring, Joey says, “It’s good to do it when you’re young. In Germany, I remember laundromats were at a premium. When you found one, it was almost as exciting as having a child. That’s when you know you have to reevaluate priorities. After eight years, we were debt-free, we were all still getting along, and we decided to go out on top, on our own level.”

Now a family man with a day job, Joey was still infected by the performing bug. He continued singing in bands like Poppa Shines and, more recently, in jazz gigs with Doug Riley. While he sees no end to occasional gigs, he admits, “Someday, when I look into the crowd and see my daughter in the crowd, I probably won’t play that particular bar anymore.” Also, he says, “I don’t get to sleep in like I used to.”

Last year, Joey sang in four performances in Canada Rocks! in two roles, so he jumped at the chance to be a regular part of the cast this coming summer. He likes the prospect of theatre work that doesn’t leave his rock roots behind. “I’ve always loved being in bands. This is like a big version.”

From being a solo artist to a band member to a cast member, Joey’s control over musical decisions diminishes—but so does responsibility for the stressful extras: managing finances, sorting out tour logistics. “I’ve always liked the insulation of being part of a group, so different people can shoulder different parts of it. At this level [singing in a musical], there’s less control, but I like to relinquish that.

“Canada Rocks! is a blessing. I get to perform music at a high level, and it’s early at night and five minutes from my house.” Joey says, “I was signed to a major record deal, and there are some things good and some things bad about that…. But to be able to perform with professional musicians and basically sleep in my own bed at night—that’s the pinnacle for me.

“To be an Islander and be in a show is a highlight. I’d love to do more shows,” Joey says, adding with a chuckle, “Who knows? Maybe I’ll work on my dance steps and perform as Anne next year.” Now that would be something to include in a résumé.

Events Calendar

November 2018
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Some Upcoming Events

Free Solo

Until November 20
City Cinema PG, language may offend, scary scenes
Dir: Jimmy Chin/Elizabeth Chai Va [ ... ]

Moving East tour

Jimmy Rankin at Harbourfront Theatre and Trailside Café November 22 & 23  Jimmy Rankin [ ... ]

Come Home to Us

Christmas programming at the Celtic Performing Arts Centre Select dates
Celtic Performing Arts Centr [ ... ]

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Acadian showman

Profile: Christian Gallant by Jane Ledwell Forty-six musicians and step dancers took the stage at  [ ... ]

Young Company headed to National Child W...

The TD Confederation Centre Young Company is hitting the road again. After a busy 2017 season that s [ ... ]

9th UPEI Chancellor

Honourable Catherine Callbeck installed The Honourable Catherine Callbeck has been installed as the [ ... ]